Memorable Night for Stevens Pushes Nittany Lions Past Hoosiers 64-49
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In the span of less than a minute, Lamar Stevens collected his 800th career rebound and moved into third place on Penn State’s all-time scoring list, as he led 24th-ranked Penn State past Indiana 64-49.
Stingy defense was the storyline for Penn State Wednesday night, as the Nittany Lions held the Hoosiers to 33% shooting from the field and just 21 points in the second half. That, combined with a strong offensive second frame, catapulted Penn State to its 15th win of the season and fifth in the Big Ten.
The night started off with an emotional tribute to Kobe Bryant and everybody who lost their lives in Sunday’s tragic incident. A moment of silence was preceded by a tribute to Bryant that certainly had those in attendance at the Bryce Jordan Center emotional.
As for the game itself, both teams struggled throughout the first half, combining to shoot 34% from the field. Trayce Jackson-Davis led the Hoosiers with 10 points, while Stevens paved the way for the Nittany Lions with eight. Penn State looked rusty after not playing since last Wednesday at Michigan, but Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers said the time off was a benefit to his team.
“We had fresh legs and fresh minds,” Chambers said. “We had some time off between the last game and tonight, and I think you saw that in the second half.”
Another theme in the first half was Penn State’s struggles from the free-throw line. The Nittany Lions hit just 50% of their free-throw attempts in the game’s first 20 minutes and missed their first two from the stripe in the second half.
Not much changed early in the second half as both teams remained rusty, though Indiana’s struggles could be attributed to strong defense from the Nittany Lions. But two Penn State 3-pointers by Seth Lundy and Myreon Jones broke the lull and helped the Nittany Lions create a bit of separation from the Hoosiers, bringing the crowd back into the game in the process.
“I want to thank the students for coming out,” Chambers said. “I thought they were loud, and it gives us a home-court advantage.”
Just prior to the 10-minute mark of the second half, Mike Watkins limped off the court but quickly returned after being looked at by trainers.
Midway through the second half, Stevens picked up his 800th rebound, then surpassed Joe Crispin for third place on Penn State’s scoring list just moments later. That was preceded by a John Harrar dunk, which led to an Archie Miller timeout, as the Indiana head coach felt the game slipping away.
“I think John has been a rock,” Chambers said. “He has been as steady as they come, and he’s got confidence on the offensive end.”
Stevens had a slow night offensively, but Chambers emphasized that he wants his senior to remain confident.
“I want him to be able to move on [from bad shots] and stay downhill,” Chambers said. “That’s what he did.”
As Penn State continued to pull away late, Miller’s frustrations got the best of him, as he was issued a technical foul that put the game away for Penn State. Moving forward, Chambers emphasizes that Penn State must continue to ride its momentum into the back half of the season.
“Our players are bought in,” Chambers said. “It’s great leadership, it’s great connectivity in the locker room and a great family atmosphere.”
Penn State returns to action this Saturday at Nebraska. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.
Jake Starr is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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